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Former Sen. Stevens killed in plane crash

Sen. Ted Stevens was killed in a small plane crash in his home state of Alaska, according to Mitch Rose, spokesman for the Stevens family and former chief of staff for Stevens for nine years, as reported by Dave Forman of our Washington Bureau news desk. He confirmed that the family was just notified that Stevens was killed in the plane crash.

Stevens, 86, was the longest-serving Republican senator and Alaska's longest-serving senator. Stevens was convicted on corruption charges just a week before he came up for re-election in 2008. He lost by less than 4,000 votes to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (D). Six months later, his conviction was overturned by the Justice Department, citing prosecutorial misconduct.

In 1978, Stevens, a former WWII pilot, survived a plane crash that killed his wife. In 1972, Begich's father, Nick Begich, and former House Majority Leader Hale Boggs were also killed in an Alaska plane crash.

Because of the state's size -- 16% of the entire land area of the United State with just 0.22% of the population -- air travel in Alaska is common. A 2002 AP article recounts Stevens' uneasiness with it.

"Every time you go up," Stevens said, per the 2002 article, "there's a chance you won't come down."

For more background on Stevens, see our earlier post.